7 Life Lessons Discovered by Running a Half Marathon

1) Run with a pack.  If I didn’t have my local church friends Sierra and Kelly to run with, the cheers and support of my husband and kids, the knowledge my chiropractor shared, or the daily encouragement I received from God’s word, running my first half marathon would have been dull and me-centered.  In ministry, you must identify your pack and run with them.  These are people you love to re-tweet, give advice to, and pray for – and they do the same for you.

2) Expect the unexpected.  I fell during the half marathon last week.  Soooo wish we had it on video.  EPIC hilarity.  Running the half taught me one can get a blister on top of an existing blister.  I also learned that a running shirt that’s never caused me problems before could suddenly rub off a layer of arm skin under tougher conditions.  You never know what’s out there – ask those who’ve gone ahead of you for opinions and make sure you laugh along the way.  The yoke of Jesus is still light if you’re on the right path.

3) You aren’t finished, really.  It’s sad when we set a big goal, achieve it by God’s grace, then put our running shoes away for good.  Chalk it up as another great chapter in your life’s book, then get back out there.  “The End” doesn’t come until Jesus returns.  Retirement is rubbish.  In ministry we are in a continual process of completing, processing, and creating – no matter our age, resources, or health.  Go ahead and let things flow together in the awkward way they will because God makes it beautiful.

4) Timing’s everything.  This time last year I was training for what was to have been my first half marathon.  I went to the doctor and discovered I needed surgery for a disease I wasn’t even aware I had.  If I’d run the half last year as planned, I could’ve suffered some serious consequences.  God didn’t want me to run at that time.  It was a hard pill to swallow but the weeks of bed rest I had following surgery resulted in writing the journal pages which birthed all that’s happened in BlueDoor.tv this year.

5) Run YOUR race.  My husband can run a half marathon in almost half the time it takes me.  But I don’t care.  13.1 miles is the same distance whether you have Kenyan legs, twirl around wearing a tutu the whole way, or run/walk a 5 min/2 min pace like me.  Don’t go after someone else’s personal best.  God’s path for you is supposed to be 100% unique by His design.  My mom taught me the phrase “Compare and Despair” as a teenager – wisdom that’s carried me through a lot of confusing seasons of life.

6) You’re only as good as your fuel.  Five weeks into my half marathon training I began getting the shakes on long runs and would fall asleep after my workouts due to sudden drops in blood sugar.  I discovered that eating one KIND bar keeps my little 5’2″ frame going strong.  Have you ever tried to minister, lead a team of people, or care for your family without starting your day by fueling up on God’s word?

7) Remember why you’re running in order to stay the course.  Top runners say it helps to have a visual image in mind that drives you.  Some people have a mantra (“Just one more mile!” or “You’ve got this!”).  Like many of you, I run to be an example to my kids, Blake and Mackenzie.  They count on Mom to read God’s word every day, they know I’m crazy in love with Daddy (and them), and they know Mom wants to take care of her body.  It encouraged me to run with their names on my bib last Saturday.

If there were a running bib big enough, I’d try to explain my purpose for staying in the race of life. One of my ministry motivations is the memory I have of singing with a Jamaican congregation in Tottenham, London in 1998.  I believe I caught a tiny glimpse of what worship in heaven will be like – different cultures, colors, languages – all of us coming together to praise the One True God in unity. In my race I’m combining my experiences, passions, and the grace poured out on my life to use the resources God provides to help increase the population of that global heavenly choir I’ll participate in someday soon.



Let’s keep racing, friends. 


Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed-that exhilarating finish in and with God-he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. – Hebrews 12:2 MSG



5 Responses to “7 Life Lessons Discovered by Running a Half Marathon”

  1. Sierra September 9, 2011 at 5:53 am #

    Amazing post, my friend! I love all of the concrete examples of life you were able to tie in. Well done…on the race AND on this post but especially in the example you set for others. Like me. :)

    • Dana Byers September 9, 2011 at 2:21 pm #

      Most of these examples came to mind during that last 2 miles when you were helping me finish. ;)

  2. Makeda September 9, 2011 at 9:43 am #

    You’re my hero! This post was beautiful. Thanks for sharing and for the remarkable example you are in so many ways. Love you friend!

    • Dana Byers September 9, 2011 at 2:21 pm #

      Love you too, Makeda – thanks for the encouragement.

  3. Miheret September 9, 2011 at 2:41 pm #

    Thanks Dana for sharing your experience and lesson you learned. It remembered me1 Corinthians 9:24 We run in such a way to get prize from our King, always attempting big for God. I see you like running, you should come to Addis where the world famous runner do training in Mountains :) lol

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